| 14.2°C Dublin

Ryan rediscovers his sparkle as Limerick leave Cribbin facing exit

LIMERICK boss Maurice Horan was visibly emotional following this victory, while his Offaly counterpart Tom Cribbin insisted that he will not be rushed into a decision on his future.

This win at the Gaelic Grounds was massive for Horan after Kerry had routed his team in the Munster semi-final last month.

With five changes to his starting line-up, and minus the services of dual players Stephen Lucey and Mark O'Riordan, this looked like a difficult assignment for Limerick.

Offaly were buoyed by their victory over Monaghan but, in typical fashion, the tag of favourites hung like a noose around their necks.

The visitors could not break through Limerick's swarm defence. The supply of ball into dangerman Niall McNamee was limited and the visitors managed just seven points from play.

Contrast that with a haul of 3-9 from Limerick's full-forward line -- with Ian Ryan accounting for 1-7.

Ryan destroyed Meath as a teenager with a sensational 3-7 haul in a 2008 qualifier and he was back to his brilliant best on Saturday. His display left Horan swooning and celebrating a first championship win since taking sole control this year.

"We listened to five weeks of criticism about not having enough heart and a very insipid display against Kerry," said Horan.

"We had to come up with something today, but there's a lot of resolve in that panel and there's more depth than people realise."

The future is less certain for Cribbin, who has served almost three full seasons.

When asked about his position, he said: "I didn't envisage having to make that decision today. I don't want to make a rash decision all of a sudden and do something that I might regret. It's more appropriate to talk to the county board and get the feedback from the public and the players."

Asked if he fancied another year at the helm, he replied: "I'm not too sure. I think a longer-term plan has to be put in place to get it right.

"Putting a guy in year-on-year is ridiculous. You need to let him build confidence with a team and if he has to make hard decisions and develop more young lads, the only way you can do that is to put a guy in place for two or three years. Year on year just doesn't work."

Offaly gave themselves too much to do after falling 2-4 to 0-2 behind inside 20 minutes, conceding goals to Ryan and full-forward Seamus O'Carroll.

And a tally of 15 wides, many of them before half-time when they were very much in the ascendancy, didn't help their cause.

Offaly outscored Limerick by 0-6 to 0-1 for the rest of the first half, with Ciaran McManus booting some fabulous frees, to cut the half-time deficit to 2-5 to 0-8.

Scorers -- Limerick: I Ryan 1-7, G Collins 1-2, S O'Carroll 1-0, S Kelly 0-2f, T Lee, E Hogan 0-1 each. Offaly: C McManus 0-7f, K Casey, N McNamee 0-2 each, B Darby, N Darby, B Allen, P Bracken 0-1 each.

LIMERICK -- B Scanlon 7; T Stack 7, S Gallagher 7, S Lavin 7; J Riordan 7, J McCarthy 7, P Ranahan 8; S Buckley 7, T Lee 7; S Kelly 7, J Mullane 6, M Sheehan 6; G Collins 8, S O'Carroll 7, I Ryan 9. Subs: B Fitzpatrick 6 for Mullane (48), E O'Connor 6 for Gallagher (59), E Hogan 7 for O'Carroll (62), M McCormack for Riordan (69).

OFFALY -- A Mulhall 8; S Pender 6, J Quinn 6, B Darby 7; N Darby 6, S Brady 6, S Lonergan 6; R Dalton 6, N Smith 6; C McManus 7, R Brady, K Slattery 6; B Allen 6, K Casey 6, N McNamee 7. Subs: P Bracken 7 for Slattery (40), N Dunne 6 for N Darby (54), D Egan 5 for Allen (61), N Spain 5 for Lonergan (63), S Ryan for R Brady (69).

Ref -- M Condon (Waterford)

Irish Independent